Shanghai, IL Tornado Does Much Damage, May 1868

TORNADO IN ILLINOIS.

A VILLAGE ENTIRELY DESTROYED -- A CHURCH FILLED WITH WORSHIPERS DEMOLISHED -- FOUR PERSONS KILLED AND MANY WOUNDED.

Monmouth, Ill., Monday, May 4.
The village of Ionia, or Shanghai, in the northeastern portion of this county, was visited yesterday evening with one of the most terrific storms ever witnessed in this section of the country. The weather for several days has been excessively hot and sultry. An east wind has prevailed, under the influence of which a dense low stratum of clouds has been running heavily westward, while a higher stratum, generally surcharged with electricity, has been passing on steadily toward the east. Several thunderstorms of greater or less intensity have occurred. Last evening a threatening cloud passed to westward of this place, then veered toward the northeast, emitting vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied by almost incessant thunder, and from this there was observed to descend a funnel-shaped cone, which apparently trailed its apex on the earth for some distance, and then drew up again into the bosom of the cloud. This was about 5 o'clock P.M.
The greater part of the inhabitants of Shanghai were assembled in the Church of the New Advent, where Sabbath-school exercises were being held. The cloud had been observed, but no special anxiety was entertained with regard to it, when suddenly the atmosphere darkened unaccountably, and a flood of lightning apparently filled the church. The congregation staggered to their feet en masse, and rushed for the doors, which were bolted by some persons just within. At this instant the windows were wrenched out, the entire structure slid several feet from its foundation, and the roof was crushed in bodily upon the struggling masses beneath. Our informant, MISS SMITH, who was in the body of the church, states that immediately after the final crash she found herself upon the ground, held in a stooping position by the roof, through which an opening had been torn some few feet distant. Being but slightly bruised, she succeeded in extricating herself, but was immediately caught by the wind and thrown forward, receiving several deep cuts upon the face.
By this time, although it occupied less in transpiring than in relating, the fury of the wind was already spent, and before the victims were yet recovered from the ruins the sun was again shining. The scene of destruction which it lit up was terrible to look upon. The entire northern portion of the village was destroyed. A few dwellings in the southern portion had entirely escaped. Some sixteen houses in all, beside the school house and the only two churches which the village contained, were demolished. Owing to the distance from the scene of the disaster, we have not been able to ascertain all the names of the wounded. The number, however, is between thirty-five and forty, many fatally. The escape of any from the church was, indeed, miraculous. The funnel-shaped cloud first struck the earth about a mile and a half from the village. Its track was about three-fourths of a mile in width, and it passed some three miles northeast of the place, destroying three farm houses on its course before it rose again into the air. A deluge of rain and hail accompanied the wind. Several hail-stones measuring ten inches in circumference were picked up after the tornado had passed. What names of the victims I have received I give you below:
Killed -- HARRISON WILSON, boy of 13; son of MORTIMER PAGE; GEORGE VENN; MRS. WOOD.
Injured -- JOHN YARD; MISS YARD, seriously; WENT family, badly. It is impossible to receive more in time for this issue. Will write you in detail.

The New York Times New York 1868-05-08